5 Reasons Why AR/VR Will Transform the User Experience
by Ron Dod
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Innovative thinkers and technology gurus have long dreamed of creating an immersive experience that places users in a new world that they can explore. With the rise of AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality), this dream is finally materializing. Originally, this new technology was used to create exciting gaming experiences that situate users into a digital world where people can interact with their surroundings as if they were really experiencing the situation.
Now, AR and VR are entering other industries, including eCommerce, to provide users with a unique shopping experience that mimics in-store shopping without requiring consumers to leave the comfort of their home. With the arrival of affordable headsets, more consumers than ever have the opportunity to interact with this exciting technology. Amazon sells hundreds of headset devices ranging from just $25 to well over $200, that users can simply slip their cell phone into and begin exploring the virtual world around them.
Difference Between AR and VR
Though AR and VR share similar traits in the way they alter a user’s perception of their surroundings, there are important differences between the two technologies. VR takes users into a completely new world without any of the elements in our actual environment. AR, on the other hand, transposes different elements on top of real-life surroundings.
Using VR technology in an eCommerce setting allows merchants to present their potential customers with virtual showrooms where they can try on clothing and examine products. AR is used in a slightly different manner, allowing people to alter their existing surroundings instead. Integrating AR into furniture and real estate industries has been a creative method for helping consumers visualize their new home or how new furniture will look inside their existing home. Think of VR as a device that actually transports users somewhere else while AR merely adds something new or interesting over a user’s already-existing environment.
How to Integrate AR/VR Technology into Your Marketing Strategy
eCommerce companies have increasingly become involved in the world of AR/VR because of the many benefits that come along with it both for merchants and shoppers. The ability to immerse consumers into the shopping experience makes it much easier and more compelling to convince someone to make a purchase, but you should take time to carefully plan how this new technology will impact your current marketing strategies, including email campaigns and social media advertising, before offering it to your consumers.
Consider the benefits and drawbacks of AR and VR before determining which type of technology would best assist your business. Then, you need to consider whether you’re interested in creating a mobile app with this feature or a web application. If you’re planning to try out AR, designing a mobile app is an excellent idea because a cellphone is better equipped for picking up the details of a user’s surroundings and superimposing new images onto it. Popular photo-sending app Snapchat already uses this type of technology with filters that implant characters and designs onto the world. For an eCommerce business, your AR app can allow users to select products and view how they might look within a given space.
Creating a VR experience for your consumers may be more involved because a developer will need to create a whole new environment to amp up the user experience. As with AR, you can opt to build a mobile VR experience, which is convenient and easy to use with new products, like Google Cardboard, or create a web app. The most common method for implementing VR into eCommerce experiences is by designing a showroom for your store. Users can enter the space to try on items, browse your available products and learn more about the items without leaving their home. Virtual showrooms aim to imitate the brick-and-mortar shopping experience without the hassle of travel.
Raises Level of User Engagement
Integrating AR or VR into your everyday marketing strategy is an excellent way to raise user engagement because you are taking a passive customer and allowing them to actively participate in the shopping experience. Scrolling through a page of products is much less stimulating than walking through a virtual showroom or pointing your phone at different areas of your home and previewing products. When people experience a higher level of engagement with the companies they’re looking to buy from, it’s more likely that they will make a purchase. Immersing consumers into their online shopping also creates a more memorable experience than traditional eCommerce, helping your brand to stick out in the mind of your customer and leading them to return to your store again in the future.
Allows Shoppers to Visualize Products
One of the toughest aspects of running an eCommerce business is that consumers cannot interact with your products in the same way they can at a brick-and-mortar store. Because there is always some level of uncertainty with online purchases, consumers will often abandon items they’re interested in, leading to high cart abandonment rates and lower levels of conversions. With AR and VR technology, customers can feel more confident about the products they wish to purchase because they can actually see what something will look like inside their home, or they can try on clothing and pick up items to view them at a 360-degree angle.
Attracts Customers to Your Site
Over the last several years, AR and VR have become increasingly popular. In 2017, eMarketer cited 22 million people experienced VR in a month and predicted that number to expand to 49 million people by 2019. People are intrigued by this new form of technology that makes everyday life easier but also offers something new and exciting for them to experience. By developing an AR or VR experience that your consumers can opt into, you are giving potential customers another reason to visit your store.
If your top competitors are not already implementing an AR/VR strategy, then you have the opportunity to the first to expand into this space, bringing an interesting and convenient way for shoppers to interact with your brand. For businesses who do have competitors already using AR/VR, you should begin sketching out a plan for how this tech will fit into your marketing strategies in order to keep up with the market trends.
Immerses Consumers into the Shopping Experience
AR and VR features are able to convert eCommerce shopping into an interactive experience. When people are given the opportunity to engage with their surroundings, they become much more interested and invested in the task at hand, which in turn leads to a greater chance they will make a purchase and return to your eCommerce store in the future. As with any shopping experience, if a customer enjoyed the activity and felt satisfied with the product and service, they will return to your store again. Using this interactive element is also a great way to stand out from your competition that may not yet be integrating this type of technology into their marketing strategy.
Boost Conversion Rates
While AR/VR can spark your target market’s interest in your business, you want to see concrete results from implementing a new strategy of this caliber. According to a study conducted by Greenlight VR, 71 percent of consumers view brands with some VR component as being more up-to-date with trends, and 53 percent of people believed they would purchase an item from a brand using this technology over one that was not. These results suggest that offering an AR/VR experience alone is a reason to potentially make a purchase from an eCommerce store. With a seamless and immersive AR/VR component, your brand could lower cart abandonment rates while bringing in more sales from consumers who visit your site simply to test out your unique shopping experience.
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Ronald Dod is the Chief Marketing Officer and Co-founder of Visiture, an end-to-end eCommerce marketing agency focused on helping online merchants acquire more customers through the use of search engines, social media platforms, marketplaces, and their online storefronts. His passion is helping leading brands use data to make more effective decisions in order to drive new traffic and conversions.
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